Thundering Word to Travel to Tokyo for Tournament

Abigail Cutlip, Student Reporter

The Thundering Word, Marshall University’s speech and debate team, will finally travel to Tokyo, Japan, to compete at the International Forensic Association Tournament after its rescheduling in 2020.

Seventeen out of 30 members of the team qualified to attend. They will fly from Columbus, Ohio, to Tokyo on Mar. 9 and return on Mar. 16.

Thundering Word has previously attended the International Forensic Association Tournament in Germany in 2019 and was supposed to attend the tournament in Tokyo in 2020; however, that tournament was rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While in Japan, the team will compete across the country in four basic areas: oral interpretation of literature (prose, poetry, duo, programmed oral interpretation), prepared speeches (informative, persuasive, after dinner, rhetorical criticism), limited preparation speeches (impromptu, extemporaneous) and debate.

Clara Adkins, one of the team’s coaches and the director of forensics for the Department of Communication Studies, says that she was “extremely excited” when she was contacted about the Thundering Herd attending the tournament.

“The very first thing I did was contact Dr. Bookwalter,” Adkins said. “Dr. Bookwalter is an Avid fan of the speech and debate team. He said, ‘How much do you think you need?’ I gave him a number and he said, ‘Let’s see what we can do.’ And about two months later he came to me and he said, ‘I already have a nice donation and we have other donations coming in.’”

The team members who will be attending are Ben Chambers, George Urling, Matthew Lebo, Gabe Corbin, Bryson Connolly, Mason Pomeroy, Olivia Hindman, Liv Stockwin, Kia Booth, Adley Fry, Lily Mays, Ella Hiles, Aaryn Bonyak, Grace Stowers, Zoe Davin, Frances Harper and Aayush Damai.

Davin, a dual-enrolled, homeschooled high school student, said that she is “excited to get to compete against schools from all over the world.”

Adkins, meanwhile, said that the team will have “at least three full days where we can go out and experience not just Tokyo proper, but outside of the city.”

“I’m really excited to go to Tokyo,” team member Damai said. “There are a lot of really cool museums and shrines around Tokyo that I could visit, as well as interesting shops. It’s a very international city, so there’s a lot of different things that you can do there.”